Cold and Hot Shocks – Gullfoss, Pools and Coffee


Gullfoss (the Golden Falls) has its origin in the glacier lake Hvítávatn (the White River Lake) at Lángjökull glacier about 40km north of Gullfoss. The river Hvítá flows into a wide curved three-step ”staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice, seemingly vanishing into the earth, 32 m down. The crevice is about 20 m wide, and 2.5 km in length, and the average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime.

Over the years, there has been much speculation about using Gullfoss to generate electricity.  However, the investors’ attempts have been unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. The waterfall now belongs to the state of Iceland,

Legend has it that Sigríður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of the former owner of the falls, Tómas Tómasson, was determined to preserve Gullfoss as it had always been, and even threatened to throw herself into the waterfall. The story of the saviour of the falls is unfortunately… not true. But beautiful it is – there is even a statue made of Sigríður, standing close to the site.

When visiting Gullfoss, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, we were in for one of the most icy cold shocks ever. The air temperature maybe 8 degrees below zero – but the strong wind made it feel like -30 something.

Three of us ventured out of the car, well prepared, but faces and fingers still suffered severely. Not the best circumstances for good shots – despite sun and clear sky. We ”fired” for about five minutes, then tried to reach the car without breaking any arms, legs or cameras.

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Fortunately the path to the cliffs was closed – trying to reach the ”platform” could have ended your life. During summer this spot offers a spectacular view of the falls.

But, surely you can see the golden light of the Golden Falls…even in winter?

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The walk to reach the rails was not successfully made by more than 10-15 people during our short stay. It was not possible to come closer for another angle of the crevice.

Trying to regain some body heat, we were delighted to dive into the warm car and follow the glacier river Hvitá down stream.

The sunset painted the surrounding landscape using mostly short sweeps of the brush…

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…leaving only few white light spots around the corner of the hills. Soon the Icelandic evening was upon us.

Our plan was to go to The Secret Lagoon for a hot bath – the perfect ending of any day. In fact, every day was ended off with bathing in hot pools – which is a great habit with the Icelanders. Their bathing culture is strong, and they make it clear to every visitor that they have to take off their clothes and shower thoroughly without swimsuit. This is a must before entering the pools.

Here a gallery of hot pools and earthen baked bread and hot coffee…I hope you are inspired!

Facts on Gullfoss: Wikipedia

40 reaktioner på ”Cold and Hot Shocks – Gullfoss, Pools and Coffee

  1. Just amazing photos of nature in the raw, that frozen waterfall is stunning. You did very well getting such beautiful, and cold looking images. The hot pools would be bliss. I hope the shower was nice and hot too…

    • thank you – the hot pools are very nice, ranging from 38-44 degrees Celsius. All natural of course, and all of them outdoors. I never get tired of them…but this was the first time in winter and snow! A wow- experience!

  2. Stunning, jaw dropping beautiful Ann-Christine. My husband happened to be looking over my shoulder and he too was staring in amazement. This landscape is magical in all its coldness, starkness and brilliance of views.

  3. Thanks for braving the elements to get these shots to share. We had several days of -15F with windchill, so I know just how cold that can be!! I can just imagine how wonderful the hot pools, the delicious bread, and the hot coffee must have been.


    • Hehe – that we had, but also a devastating wind and cold. I had to take all photos very fast…so the accuracy is not always perfect. And I somewhat hope you are a bit jealous anyway…

    • My hands and fingers suffer a lot, get red and then white and loose ability to work. It is something my grandmother had as well – called Reynauds syndrom. The face is not easy to cover …at least not when you are taking photos! And yes, the hot pools are gorgeous…

      • I admire your tenacity then Leya, suffering the cold like that. Here when it dips down below 10*C we’re shivering! Can’t get my head around the temperatures you’re describing. Those images of that icy wonderland which you have captured are truly incredible!

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